Court Dismisses Application Over Import Of Christian Books With The Word ‘Allah’

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 – The High Court today dismissed an application by Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) for leave for a judicial review to challenge a Home Ministry order prohibiting the import of Christian books containing the word “Allah”. Justice Datuk Zaleha Yusof ruled that the High Court was bound by the Court of Appeal’s decision that the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of faith and practices of Christianity. In her judgement, which was read out by Senior Assistant Registrar N. Arun in chambers, Zaleha said the court had no choice but to refer to the Court Of Appeal’s decision in the case of the Home Ministry against the Roman Catholic Church involving a prohibition on the use of the word “Allah” in its ‘Herald’ weekly publication.

“So, although the decision, was particular to the weekly Herald, all the learned judges held that the word “Allah” is not an integral part of faith and practices of Christianity and, therefore, the prohibition by the minister is not unconstitutional. “As long the decision stands, the doctrine of ‘stare decisis’ (precedent), this court is bound by the decision of the superior court,” she said.

She said the court dismissed the application with no order as to costs. On Dec 10, 2007, SIB and its president, Rev Jerry W. A. Dusing alias Jerry W. Patel, filed a leave application for a judicial review against the Home Ministry and the government to challenge the Customs Department’s seizure of its books brought in from Surabaya, Indonesia, at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang on Aug 15, 2007.

The books were, however, returned to the church on Jan 25, 2008. They had sought a declaration that they had the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in all their religious publications and practices, and not just within the church. Lawyer Lim Heng Seng represented the church and Dusing while senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan acted for the government.